Holy Trinity, Penn, Buckinghamshire

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Feature Sets (2)


Penn is a village in the Chiltern Hills, squeezed between the towns of High Wycombe and Beaconsfield. It consists of houses and the church and a chapel built along a minor road that threads its way between these two large settlements.

The church consists of a chancel with a S chapel; a nave with a S aisle and N and S porches; and a 14thc W tower. The chancel and its chapel are of the 14thc but they were rebuilt in brick in 1736, retaining the reticulated E window, and at this time the church was substantially remodelled– it may have fallen into disrepair. The chancel arch is segmental and of the 18thc. The S arcade is of three unequal bays: bay 1 is wide with a segmental arch and pier 1 is square in plan; bay 2 is narrow and pointed, while pier 2 is rectangular and almost as wide as bay 2; bay 3 is also pointed but wider than bay 2. This irregularity must also be a result of the 18thc remodelling. The 15thc N porch protects the main entrance, while the S porch is 18thc work and has been converted for use as a store. The S elevation appears curiously domestic, owing to the decision made by the 18thc restorers to roof the nave and aisle with a great pitched roof whose single span covers a vestry built alongside the tower too; and to pierce it with dormers to light the aisle. In 1865 the E wall of the chancel was again rebuilt. As for materials, the medieval work is of flint and the 18thc work of brick, while the fabric of the tower included a good deal of tile. The only Romanesque work here is found in the stem and plinth of the font.


Penn is not mentioned in the Domesday Survey, but by the 13thc the overlordship belonged to the Honour of Leicester, later passing to the Honour of Lancaster (as Weston Turville qv). The tenancy was held by the Turvilles - William and his wife Isabel are the first mentioned in connection with this manor, in 1197-1200. In 1222 William’s son, also William, died with no male heir and the manor was divided between his three sisters. In the same year the manor was sub-infeudated in two parts; one held by James Penn which remained in the Penn family until the 18thc (Penn Manor) and the other held by Stephen de Segrave (Segraves Manor).

The church belonged to Segraves Manor, but at the sub-infeudation of 1222 was retained by the Turville heirs. In 1241 it was given to the priory of Chalcombe (Northants) in whose hands it remained until the Dissolution.





The font is set centrally at the W end of the nave. It consists of a low cup-shaped bowl on a short cylindrical stem with a chamfered drum base. This stands on a tall cylindrical plinth with a rounded upper rim and an orbital groove on the upper surface. The lower part of this plinth has been substantially repaired with modern mortar, and in the upper part brick and mortar repairs can be seen. The font is interesting above all for its materials. The bowl is totally covered with lead sheet, whereas the stem and base are of Purbeck marble and the plinth is of limestone.

Exterior diameter of bowl at rim 0.66m
Height of bowl 0.36m
Height of bowl + stem and base 0.61m
Interior diameter of bowl at rim 0.51m
Overall height of font 1.22m


The font stem and its base, and the plinth on which it stands are 12thc work, while the curious lead-sheet bowl is certainly not – VCH suggests a 17thc date. What it replaced was presumably a Purbeck import damaged beyond repair.


  • Buckinghamshire County Council, Historic Environment Record 0447100000.

  • EH, English Heritage Listed Building 44496.

  • VCH, Victoria County History: Buckinghamshire. III , London 1925, 235-40.

  • N. Pevsner and E. Williamson, The Buildings of England: Buckinghamshire, London 1960, 2nd ed. 1994, yyy.

Exterior from SE
Interior to E


Site Location
National Grid Reference
SU 916 932 
pre-1974 traditional (England and Wales): Buckinghamshire
now: Buckinghamshire
medieval: Lincoln (Dorchester to 1085)
now: Oxford
now: Holy Trinity
medieval: not confirmed
Type of building/monument
Parish church  
Report authors
Cristian Ispir, Ron Baxter 
Visit Date
26 October 2011